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Centro Hispano de Frederick

To better acquaint our members and the greater community with our grantees, we are highlighting some of the nonprofit organizations that have received WGC grant funds. This quarter, we reached out to Maria-Teresa Shuck, Executive Director of Centro Hispano de Frederick. This organization is a three-time WGC grantee and we are happy to support the important work they are doing for women in our community.

Please introduce yourself. What is your role at your organization and how long have you been with the organization.

My name is Maria-Teresa Shuck. I am a Frederick County resident since 1991 and have been active in the community for decades, especially in the area of assisting immigrants to learn English and navigate the healthcare and education systems. I am a nationally certified medical interpreter and translator and have worked for Frederick Health Hospital for the past 20 years. I currently serve on the Frederick County Immigrant Affairs Commission. I am one of the founders and currently the Executive Director of Centro Hispano de Frederick. Centro Hispano opened its doors in 2006 and became a 501c3 non-profit in 2007. We have grown from 700 client encounters per year to over 3,800 in 2021.

What is the mission of the organization, and what personally moves you about that mission?

Mission: To inform, refer, and educate Limited English Proficiency (LEP) residents of Frederick County in order to promote full participation in community and the successful pursuit of opportunity.

Vision: We envision an informed and vibrant community in which people of all backgrounds and all ages succeed and thrive.

Values:that personally move me:

  1. Community – We encourage opportunity, prosperity, and inclusion.

  2. Service – We exist to serve our clients and to help them improve their quality of life.

  3. Integrity – We develop highly relevant programs and services to help individuals and families advance.

  4. Accountability – We are responsible stewards of the resources entitled to Centro Hispano.

  5. Joy – We celebrate community, well-being, and equity for all.

What are the most significant challenges that the organization is facing right now? What are the most significant challenges faced by the clients/populations that you serve?

The biggest challenge we currently face is space. We need more space to effectively carry out our programs as we continue to grow. Rent is a huge factor in our finances, and while grants are generous in covering direct program costs, most of the time they do not cover rent and other operating expenses.

The biggest challenges faced by our clients would be:

  • Anti-immigrant sentiment and actions.

  • Growing number of separated families due to detention, incarceration, and deportation of undocumented community members.

  • Under-achievement and inability to stay on grade level of LEP Latino students in elementary, middle and high schools.

  • Limited pathways to secondary education and vocational training for LEP Latino students.

  • Physical, emotional, and mental health crises due to anxieties and stress.

  • Transportation needs for women, especially senior citizens.

What is the nature of the Giving Circle grant that you received, and what impact will it have on women and their dependents in Frederick?

Giving Circle grant funding supports our "Entre Mujeres" program. Entre Mujeres helps Latinx and other LEP women become self-sufficient decision makers, able to lead themselves and their families out of poverty, through information-sharing, education, training, coaching, referrals, and advocacy. By raising their awareness about resources/networks available to them, transferring knowledge about employment opportunities/job search techniques, skill/ competency development, and English classes – Entre Mujeres participants are helped to believe in themselves realizing that, despite challenging circumstances, they can succeed. By creating a compassionate and trusting learning environment, Centro Hispano is creating a community where disadvantaged immigrant women are respected and empowered to create change.

Do you have any specific “stories” that you can share with us that illustrate what you are doing in the community?

Many participants have shared experiences and feelings. Some have discussed the trauma and violence they have encountered. One of them shared how her husband treated her when she arrived to the USA, leading to a painful divorce and isolation. On a more positive note, many of the participants are interested in opening a business. One of them would love to open a beauty salon. Some participants have mentioned they would like more workshops that can help them to learn new skills, especially learning English. Many have expressed their love of sewing and the desire to learn to sew. As a result, we now offer sewing classes once a week!

Is there anything further that members of the Giving Circle can do to help, in terms of volunteering, in-kind donations, etc?

  1. A 15-passenger van to transport our seniors to our Años Dorados programs and other activities.

  2. Funding to hire a responsible driver to operate the van.

  3. Volunteers needed during events, like the upcoming Frederick Hispanic Heritage Festival sponsored by Centro Hispano, on the creek on October 1, 1-5 PM.

  4. Sponsorship for the aforementioned Hispanic Heritage Festival.

  5. Help in identifying grant and fundraising opportunities.

  6. Help in identifying a potentially larger space (low rent) to comfortably deliver our many programs and services.

  7. We need to replace our old tables and chairs used for all our classrooms.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Just thank you for all the great work the Giving Circle does. We truly appreciate the time and talent it takes to do what you do to benefit the community!


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